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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB, NY AG sue debt collector to seize transferred property

Federal Issues CFPB State Attorney General State Issues Enforcement Debt Collection FDCPA

Federal Issues

On April 22, the CFPB and the New York attorney general filed a complaint against the owner of a now-defunct debt-collection firm for allegedly transferring ownership of his $1.6 million home to his wife and daughter for $1 shortly after he received a civil investigative demand and learned that the Bureau and the AG were conducting an investigation into his debt-collection activities. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau and the AG reached settlements in 2019 with the debt collection operation to resolve allegations that the defendants established and operated a network of companies that harassed and/or deceived consumers into paying inflated debts or amounts they may not have owed. The terms of the settlements imposed civil money penalties and consumer redress and permanently banned the defendants from acting as debt collectors. According to the complaint, the owner defendant has paid nothing toward satisfying the 2019 settlement, nor has he cooperated with the Bureau and the AG’s efforts to obtain relevant financial information. The complaint further claims that the transfer of the property was a fraudulent transfer under the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act and made with the intent to defraud (a violation of the New York Debtor and Creditor Law), and alleges that the owner defendant “removed and concealed assets in an effort to render the Judgment obtained by the Government Plaintiffs uncollectable.” Moreover, because the property was allegedly “transferred with intent to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor,” the complaint contends that the owner defendant is “not entitled to claim any homestead exemption.” The complaint asks the court to void the property transfer and to allow seizure of the property. Additionally, the Bureau and the AG request that the house be sold with all proceeds going towards the owner defendant’s 2019 settlement, and seek a monetary judgment against the owner defendant’s wife and daughter for the value of the property as transferees of the fraudulent conveyance of the property.

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